Hands on their hips, arms wrapped around another teammate or slowly packing their equipment, the Stephen Decatur lacrosse players didn’t know what emotion they should feel.
There was happy feeling, a sense of pride in going toe-to-toe with perennial state finalist Century but losing 10-7. But every time a glimpse of a smile appeared on a player’s face, it was met with a few more tears.
It was the realization that they were so close to an undefeated season and 3A/2A state championship.
Senior Payton VanKirk summed it up best: “It was tears and happiness and everything at the same time,” she said. “We just walk off the field with such a sense of accomplishment to be at this game.”
The next walk for this group of seniors will end with a diploma — like many of Delmarva’s athletes.
Spring brings a catharsis to the sports world. The perpetual flow of the depth chart starts all over as seniors graduate.
This year’s crop of student-athletes set to leave have been quite memorable.
There are the Decatur girls — Jillian Petito, Ally Beck, Blair Yesko, Payton VanKirk and Jenna Leitgeb, who won a slew of Bayside titles this year. Some were parts of all three teams (soccer, basketball and lacrosse) that won the conference crown.
Tthe Seahawks’ boys lacrosse team also had plenty of success, falling to eventual 3A/2A champion Kent Island. But plenty of the 15 seniors that head coach Scott Lathroum had coached since they were little got the recognition they deserved as many were named to the All-Bayside teams, with Lathroum, goalie Will Hastings and midfielder Corey Gwin being named coach and players of the year.
The Seahawks’ baseball team loses Justin Meekins and Grant Donahue with many other seniors. Those Division I players-to-be will be missed.
The picture of them sitting next to each other on the bench staring out to the field as the sun goes down after their loss to James M. Bennett explains the emotion behind the end of a high school career.
And those are just some of the Decatur players.
There’s Hunter Parsons and company on the Parkside baseball team that has had so much success during the past two years until their season ended short, like Decatur, to a Bayside foe.
In softball, there’s all the victories Mardela has piled up. Their year ended in heart break on a diving catch, losing by one. Or James M. Bennett’s Kasey Donalds, the Bayside South Player of the Year, who threw a no-hitter in one of her final games.
And those are just some of the spring sports. Football, basketball, soccer and field hockey careers have been over for months. Delaware’s playoffs are still going on, too.
But no season goes as quick as spring with proms, graduation and the anticipation of summer.
Sources are lost, too. The ones quick with a quote anytime it’s needed. They’re always there for a retweet or a direct message, “Do you have any pictures?”
Coaches don’t know who will fill the depth chart of those left behind. Journalist don’t know what stories they’ll tell.
Who will Delmarva say goodbye to next spring?
As always, the ball is in the athlete’s court.
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